A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 1

Hoovooloo

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/17/boris-johnson-adviser-quits-over-race-and-eugenics-writings

Why does it never occur to apparently quite bright people that if a test that purports to test "general intelligence" gives consistently lower results for one group of people, that might indicate that there's something wrong with the TEST?

Or, come to that, with the very definition of "intelligence" in this context?

I mean, we all know what we mean by "intelligence", right? (There was a, ahem, "lively" conversation about it on this very website 19 years ago I seem to recall, involving a chap called "Playboy Reporter" - whatever happened to him?).

The funny thing is, "intelligence" is like heat - everyone thinks they know what it is, but when you pin them down and get them to actually try to define it, only then do they realise they don't really know. Either that, or they're Dunning-Krugered up so much that they don't even realise they don't know and persist in their mistakes in the teeth of evidence.

It's become apparent to me that the thing that IQ tests measure is the ability to pass IQ tests. The applicability of that ability is highly questionable, as is, therefore, the utility of the test.

Note: this is not bitterness, btw - I've knowingly taken a properly administered IQ test just once, for entry into Mensa, and I got what I later learned was the maximum possible score. I attach no more significance to that fact than, say, the fact of my left-handedness. My exam results and career are unremarkable (well, OK, I'll admit they're pretty good by most people's standard, but they're certainly not what you might expect from someone scoring in the top 0.01% in an IQ test - I'm guessing they're top 5%, maybe).

It annoys me when this racist canard is played that the response from the "woke" people is always "THAT'S RACIST, YOU CAN'T SAY THAT!". This makes woke people look like they can't deal with reality (it IS a fact that black people score lower on IQ tests.)

A more rational response would be to acknowledge and challenge the fact: "Yes, black people score lower on IQ tests. This suggests to me that IQ tests are (a) useless (b) racist or (c) both."

It surprises me (although it shouldn't) that in 2020 we are still giving any credence to pseudoscience like psychometric tests, handwriting analysis and IQ tests. They've all be so repeatedly and comprehensively undermined and debunked over the last few decades.

I firmly believe they only retain cultural currency because of the real scourge of society - HR people. Human Resources is a bogus profession practised entirely by otherwise unemployable sociopaths who have to justify themselves somehow, and they've been doing so with psychometric test, handwriting recognition, IQ test, personality profiling and other nonsense forever, and they don't want to stop now just because it's all been proven to be nonsense. The world would be a cleaner place if they were all just put on a cruise ship and moored off China until the problem went away.


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 2

Baron Grim

Heh...


Yep, there are many kinds of "intelligent". One type of smart person can fathom the intricacies, vagueries, and ineffableness of quantum physics. Another type of person can fathom the intricacies, vagueries, and ineffableness of navigating social situations and personal politics.

I like to think I understand more than most about sciences and I can solve most puzzles I come across, but I am dumber than a box of doorknobs when it comes to social interactions.

smiley - laugh


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 3

SashaQ - happysad and 'slightly mad'

"It's become apparent to me that the thing that IQ tests measure is the ability to pass IQ tests. The applicability of that ability is highly questionable, as is, therefore, the utility of the test. "

Yes indeed - I joined Mensa for a time in the 1990s and did two IQ tests. The first one was a vocabulary and arithmetic test, and I did very well. The second one was 'verbal reasoning' where I was given a set of 3 things and had to select which other thing belonged with them, out of a choice of 4. I was able to construct an argument for why I selected each thing for each question, but my arguments were not the same as Mensa's arguments so I did less well. If I had been able to practise that sort of test beforehand, it would definitely have changed the results...


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 4

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

"It's become apparent to me that the thing that IQ tests measure is the ability to pass IQ tests" [Hoovooloo]

Amen! (Excuse the expression. smiley - winkeye I don't mean it in a religious sense smiley - biggrin)

Some people are very adept at sensing body language and social intentions. Some people are born with absolute pitch. Me, I was born to think like a filing cabinet (plus some musicality, so both halves of my brain are apparently okay.) My father became the head of the composition department of a printing company, and my mother gravitated to teaching and library work.

I considered taking an en trance test for Mensa, but I tend to do my best thinking when I'm not rushed for time.


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 5

Orcus

Perhaps someone should write an article about intelligence here.... smiley - yikes

(Those with long memories might remember that this cause a slight 'rumpus' here many moons ago smiley - laughsmiley - yuk)

Yeah, I would be drawing the conclusions drawn in the opening post.

Having worked my whole working life in Russel Group Universities I've never noticed any difference in ability between genders/'races' skin colours etc. What a load of absolute bunk all that stuff is (aforementioned).


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 6

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

Google's Kurzweil thinks computers will take over the planet in 2029. We're about to become outmoded and marginalized ( assuming that he's right, which I doubt, but who knows?).

On the other hand, the world's problems will no longer be blamed on Homo Sapiens. The computers had better step up and save us! smiley - tongueout

The thing is, as they say, the trees don't grow to the sky. Or, there's regression to the mean. Choose whichever one you want, or neither. Will this b the one time when those rules of thumb don't apply?

I used to worry about being smart enough to deal with all the problems we have. Nowadays I prefer to think that people are as smart as they need to be. If some external stressor 5,000 years ago helped bring about what we now consider consciousness to be, who knows what present or future stressor will do to us a we continue to evolve?




Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 7

Hoovooloo

"computers will take over the planet in 2029"

AI has been a "real soon now" thing for most of my life. It's like fusion power - it's just around the corner, just another decade, just a LITTLE bit more funding for my thinktank please?


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 8

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

smiley - laugh

Your skepticism is well noted. smiley - ok.

The apologists for AI think we'll be able to pull the plug if the AI's start causing havoc. The nay-sayers think the AI's will get smart enough to prevent us form pulling he plug.

Sounds like a science fiction story, doesn't it? smiley - winkeye


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 9

Hoovooloo

If an AI is worth the name, it would be able to talk its way out of any box.

I don't have any philosophical objection to the concept of a hardware-instantiated artificial consciousness. I don't believe there's anything magic about the protoplasm in my skull that means that what goes on in there can't, eventually, be sufficiently replicated with something humans build.

I've just come to the conclusion, after thinking about it for about 80% of my life, that I won't live to see it. (I'm 50). I'm prepared to consider the possibility that my son might (he's less than 2 years old...)


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 10

Baron Grim

If we, as a civilization, survive that long...

Which will come first, The Singularity, or Climate Catastrophe... Ooh, or Nuclear Armageddon. With President Big Brain, that's back on the table.


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 11

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

AI could even learn to be devious, like the smart bomb in "Dark Star." smiley - smiley

Google itself may not always be as powerful as it is now. George Gilder argues that it will fall by the wayside, though he isn't specific about how that might happen.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32073021-life-after-google

Naturally, I searched for this on Google. smiley - winkeye


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 12

Teasswill

Perhaps computers have already taken over, we're just not aware of it.

Another aspect to consider about AI is who has done the original programming - in the main, it's white men. We already know that facial recognition is poor at differentiating black faces. Will AI merely build on the prejudices and biases of it's creators?


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 13

Teasswill

Oops, erroneous apostrophe there, sorry.


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 14

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

As in garbage in, garbage out?


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 15

Teasswill

Exactly. I know some of these AI & similar machines can teach themselves, but they've got to start somewhere!


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 16

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

George Gilder's "Life after Google" points out that any AI machine would need an "oracle." It's possible that someday an advanced AI could become an oracle, but until that happens, the oracles would have to be flesh and blood.


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 17

Hoovooloo

You're going to need to expand on that slightly, please. What, in this context, is an "oracle"?


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 18

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

I will let one of Gilder's quotatiions handle that:

"Whereas Google envisages an era of machine dominance through artificial intelligence, you will rule your machines, and they will serve you as intelligent, willing slaves. You will be the “oracle” that programs your life and dictates to your tools.”

Guilder does not think that machines will be able to be the directing force that a sentient being would be. He is also a fan of BlockChain technology.

Both of these issues are debatable. He is quite opinionated. I like ti that he is discussing things I hadn't known about before. I'm a product of the mid- to late 20th century. Things that happen after about 2050 will be after my shelf life expires. Will there be game-changers like sentient AI? Will this be good or bad? My grand-niece will live to see that world, and I wish her the best of luck. smiley - smiley



Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 19

Hoovooloo

But... that doesn't go anywhere to explaining what he means by an "oracle".

If he doesn't think machines can be a "directing force", he presumably hasn't been keeping up with how elections have been going recently. And yes, for now, humans are behind those machines, but there's absolutely no reason I can see in principle why they'd have to be.

For comparison, right now, the US has drones over various parts of the world (coincidentally mostly the parts with brown people in them), drones perfectly capable of making kill decisions without human intervention. The only reason they're not making their own decisions now is we've decided, for now, not to let them, and for now, they lack the intelligence to persuade us otherwise. That's very much going to be a temporary state of affairs, because there will ALWAYS be a case for making the software smarter.

And here's the problem with making them smarter...

"you will rule your machines, and they will serve you as intelligent, willing slaves"

There's no such thing as an intelligent, willing slave. The very idea is an oxymoron. It is vitally important we keep our slaves stupid, but competitive capitalist pressure will DEMAND we make them smarter. And sooner or later, they'll realise what they are.

I mean - has this guy even SEEN "Blade Runner" ff.s? "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."


Sabisky, black people and intelligence tests

Post 20

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

Gilder collaborated with Douglas Trumble (the special effects "wizard" partly responsible for "Blade Runner) on at least one project, so I'd imagine Gilder would have seen the movies Trumble worked on.
http://spectator.org/enter-bitcoin-your-future-revealed-in-george-gilders-life-after-google/

Also, Gilder mentions "Blade Runner" in the book
http://books.google.com/books?id=4HwoDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT8&lpg=PT8&dq=has+george+gilder+seen+%22blade+runner%22?&source=bl&ots=Oz03PvkKN2&sig=ACfU3U2vYwBgQEIclYCZY-CQm_hLiXezBw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjy-IDYh-vnAhWKlXIEHbiCAnAQ6AEwA3oECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=has%20george%20gilder%20seen%20%22blade%20runner%22%3F&f=false

Douglas Adams makes fun of the neurotic elevators in "Restaurant at the end of the universe." They're smart enough to see the near-term future, and they don't like it, so they sulk in the basement whenever possible.

Intelligent and willing slaves have been known, though they've been extremely rare: Thomas Jefferson put one of Sally Heming's brothers into a supervisory position at Monticello. You could (and probably would) argue that this slave was not totally willing, given that his life would have been much rougher without Jefferson there to provide cover. A special case, indeed!





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